The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs clash at Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon with a trip to the AFC Championship on the line. The Chiefs have been sitting around after getting to skip the first-round thanks to the Patriots losing against the Dolphins. Conversely, the Texans went the distance against the Buffalo Bills in overtime last week. They needed some breaks along the way, but ultimately got it done at home versus the Bills.
If that game was in Buffalo, we’re likely talking about a different result. With the progress we’ve seen from the Bills this season, it may not be long before Buffalo hosts a playoff game, though. The Texans must go on the road in the Divisional Round this week and win as 10-point underdogs to move on.
It’s not going to be as friendly an environment at Arrowhead than it was at NRG Stadium for the Texans. The weather is likely not going to be on their side, either. The forecast calls for mid-30’s and the possibility of snow. We know that there will be plenty of snow on Saturday, but the brunt of the precipitation will have moved out of the area already.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are no strangers to playing in the elements, so flurries aren’t going to bother them at all. This game could have been really interesting in a snowstorm on Saturday. Deshaun Watson would have been at a serious disadvantage, though. Mahomes and the Chiefs made easy work of the Broncos in snow a few weeks ago by a score of 23-3.
Having said that, it’s nice to see that we’re likely going to get to see two exciting offenses operating without being hampered by a winter storm. There isn’t much that can slow Mahomes down, but we’ll see if the Texans can travel to Kansas City with the same amount of energy that they put on the field in the Wild Card Round. They’re going to need that and more to upset the Chiefs.
The Texans held Josh Allen to 264 yards with no touchdowns. However, they must have forgotten about his ability to run, because Allen managed to rack up 92 yards on the ground. He was their leading rusher, with Devin Singletary accumulating 58 yards on 13 carries for 4.5 yards per carry. If the Chiefs can run for 178 yards, that likely means a lot more than 19 points on Sunday afternoon.
Josh Allen has made serious strides this season, but he is not on the same level as Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense. KC running the ball effectively would likely result in some big play possibilities for the Chiefs downfield. The Bills don’t possess a dangerous deep threat game at the moment, though the Texans are going to have to be aware of Mahomes looking deep.
Cornerback Jonathan Joseph has been limited in practice all week, and his status is currently cloudy as of Thursday night. If he does suit up, Joseph will be playing with a hamstring injury. That could flare up on him at any moment, and a gimpy leg is not ideal in keeping up with a speedy group of receivers on the other side. It’s worth monitoring going into Sunday, but we do know at a minimum he won’t be 100% for the Chiefs. Head below four free Texans vs. Chiefs pick in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Outcome Betting Odds for the NFL Conference Championships and Super Bowl 54
Houston Texans vs. K.C. Chiefs Betting Odds:
Texans vs. Chiefs Prediction:
Mahomes put up electric numbers once again in the regular season, as he passed for 4,301 yards with 26 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He missed a chunk of time, giving way to Matt Moore to get some snaps under center. Mahomes was also playing injured earlier in the season, though was able to fight through the pain before going down against the Broncos in Week 7. Getting a couple of games off may have been a blessing in disguise for him. Even before he was laying flat on the field after attempting a QB sneak, Mahomes was moving around the field gingerly.
Time off to heal his ankle, which was clearing causing him significant discomfort, ultimately helped down for late in the season. While he didn’t come close to matching the 50 touchdowns he threw last season, Mahomes has been moving around much better in the pocket. The offense is going to be the healthiest it’s been all season against the Texans. Travis Kelce was limited in practice with a knee injury this week, though it appears to be a precautionary move and isn’t going to keep him from playing on Sunday. Mahomes should have a full complement of weapons at his disposal.
Despite having to deal with injuries to Mahomes, the offensive line, and Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs finished 6th in the league with 379.2 yards per game. They scored an average of 28.2 points a game for 5th. Fortunately, the offense continued to get healthier instead of in the other direction as the season progressed. The Texans have been vulnerable to vertical threats. They didn’t really have to concern themselves with a deep passing game against the Bills. However, that’s going to change at Arrowhead on Sunday.
The Texans finished the regular season with 267.2 passing yards allowed per game for 28th in the NFL. Mahomes passed for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns in the regular season meeting against the Texans. However, that wasn’t enough, as Deshaun Watson led the Texans to 31 points in a 31-24 win in Kansas City.
The Texans know that they can win at Arrowhead, and will look to do it again on a brighter stage on Sunday. Will Fuller’s status is not clear heading into Friday. He has been limited in practice after missing the Wild Card Round, though that could be Bill O’Brien playing some games. The Texans will not have to worry about safety Juan Thornhill here.
The talented rookie, who has hauled in three interceptions and helped the Chiefs’ defense look much better this season, was injured against the Chargers in Week 17. If Fuller plays, look for him to sneak past the secondary often. Second-year safety Armani Watts figures to play a bigger role with Thornhill out. Thornhill’s loss is being understated in the media leading into this contest. He’s been a key figure in the defenses resurgence this season. Watson should be able to take advantage of this hole in the secondary.
The Chiefs didn’t need Mahomes scoring six touchdowns a game to win with an improved presence on defense in 2019. However, Watson has played well against the Chiefs in his career, as he enters Arrowhead with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions for a 101.5 QBR. I expect this game to turn into the Watson vs. Mahomes show. The spread is sharp as can be at 10 to 9.5 points, but the total appears a couple of points too low here. Look for the offenses to provide an entertaining affair on Sunday in the AFC Divisional Round. A 34-23 or 30-24 final score look like good possibilities at Arrowhead.